“Life rewards action”​, and what’s next?

This article was originally published on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/life-rewards-action-whats-next-barry-li/

The guy who thinks – when he’s sick

I was sick this week. Every time I get sick (and only when I get sick), I start to think about my life. I wish I could think more often, but life was too busy. Too busy for me to stop and think – until I get sick. I suspect I’m not alone in this.

When I was feeling miserable yesterday, this question popped up in my head: If I die today, what do I want to be remembered by? An accountant? An Author? Loving husband and father? (Have been so busy in the last busy season, not sure if I still qualify for this one) or a great volunteer? I’m a typical “slash” guy among my peers. I grab every opportunity I can catch. I do everything I can do. Eventually, I’m just a sick guy who did nothing this week.

Doing nothing is not the plan. My calendar for my “off-work” days are typically busier than my work days. I’m supposed to be volunteering at the World Congress of Accountants this week. Didn’t make it because I’m sick. I was quite upset at the beginning of this week. I have done lots of volunteering in the past five years, everywhere. It felt great. I met so many people, learned so many new things. Now all the accountants are celebrating the WCOA and Melbourne Cup, and I missed out. If this is not irony, I don’t know what is.

Not long ago, I thought I was going to be remembered, when I die, by a lot of things (and by lots of people). But today while I’m sick, I just figured out something rather obvious: my fellow accountants won’t even notice my absence for the WCOA. My readers won’t care if I publish another book or not. My really loving and caring boss would cry for me – if I never show up to work again – but she’ll survive. She can get someone better to audit UNSW for sure. The only people who will be devastated are just my families. Isn’t that obvious enough?

Ok. If that is obvious, then what was I doing in the past five years, trying so hard to wear so many hats? Why did I go home late 3-4 times a week, and missed out so many fun moments with the boys? Since when it all started?

When did this all start?

My memory goes back 5 years when I was a still a new graduate at PwC. As a CPA member, I have to go to courses here and there to gather my CPD points. I remember I was browsing on LinkedIn. There was an ad popped up. It’s a “life success” course in Parramatta, $100 course I can click and get it for $15, and they claim there are 2 CPDs. Pretty good deal. So, of course, I went for it. I don’t remember the location anymore. Somewhere in a building in Parramatta CBD. But I remembered most things that guy said (didn’t remember his full name. Ben something.). Towards the mid of the session of his wonderful speech, he asked this:

“Can I have a volunteer please?” Ben asked.

Silence in the room. Must be lots of accountants in that room, no one wants to put their hands up.


Just while I was still hesitating, a girl in front of me stood up.


Then, Ben gave this girl hundreds of dollars worth of his books and CDs (yes CDs were still popular back then). And then he said this: “Thank you. I don’t need you to perform anything with me. I just want to see who puts his/her hand up first. And I’ll give him/her all these things for free. Why? I want everyone else, who didn’t have the guts to put their hands up, to remember this -”

It was dead quiet in that big meeting room.

“Life rewards action”, Ben said, “This is one of the two most important secrets of a successful life. I’m giving you this for free tonight”.

I was in complete shock when I heard this line. I was in shock because it is too simple – too obvious, but completely right. I start to question all the moments in my previous life that I hesitated to put my hands up. It suddenly all start to make sense. To have a successful life, of course, we need to take action!

Ben went on to sell his “life success” course. I don’t remember much after this part, because all I was thinking about in my head, for the rest of the night was that one sentence: ‘Life rewards action.” So I might have missed out if he did talk about, that second most important point for a successful life. Or it might be part of the 4 digit cost course that I didn’t sign up on. I would have signed up for that course, if I knew better back then, life was more than just “taking action”. It cost a lot more time and money to figure out now.

“Life rewards action”, and what’s next?

Since I received that shining wisdom from Ben that night, I have never stop actioning (except for when I get sick and thinking). I worked hard at PwC but grab the opportunity to move into my current role. I chaired one discussion group after another at PwC. I was the first chair of the CPA Young Professionals from mainland China. I pushed myself to do another master degree when my second son was born. And when I met my mentor from UNSW, and find out she’s a published author, I immediately grabbed that opportunity, and became a published author myself. I actioned everything in my life that I encountered, until today. Do I feel rewarded? Yes, absolutely. Am I close to success? Far far away.

So what was wrong with me? (and people like me)

It is again quite obvious. Everyone has limited time and energy. When I try to master everything, I end up mastering nothing. Here’s the second part of your life’s most important secret for success: Life rewards consistency. I feel comfortable in my audit land because I have been quite consistently doing it for the past five years. When I walk into the big CPA meeting room, I know I can be a good host, because I have been doing that consistently for five years.

And for this reason, I also know why my book doesn’t sell – I did nothing for it since it was published. I have spent no time marketing my book, so people don’t know about it. Or maybe my first book is just a total failure. It’s OK. If I consistently write for five years, I’ll be a much author than I am today. That I know for sure.

I don’t want this article to turn into a sale pitch, because I’m actually 100% serious on this topic. If you reached this far in this article, here are the two most important wisdom for your life (completely free, not even $15):

Life rewards action – take every opportunity in your life, as soon as you see it;

Life rewards consistency – don’t try to be everything and do everything. Focus on the most important ones.

How many should you focus on, among all the intriguing opportunities? There’s the 20/80 rule. And I heard Warren Buffet had a 5/25 rule. It’s the same. Focus on the minority which may give you the majority of benefits. Nothing more than that.

What for me next? And can you help?

I’m not sure if my colleague and boss would go this far into my article, but I have no intention to hide my plan. I’m going to start to work part-time after this busy period, and I’m going to work on my next book (while promoting my first book).

While I was sick, I did not stop. I have done the followings in my sick week, and I wish you could help (instructions in brackets, feel free to pick any one or more)

  1. I have re-designed my website: theNewChinese.com (Please kindly visit)
  2. I have set up my “Monthly Newsletter”. (Please sign up, and I promise I’ll send you good content every month. )
  3. I have fixed my LinkedIn profile (Please kindly connect)
  4. I have created a special offer for Christmas – Buy one get one free! If you buy a copy of my book now, you can get another copy for yourself or a friend for free. (Please kindly buy one, and get one free for your friend who might be interested in China / Chinese people)

Lastly, I just want to say think you for getting to the bottom of this article. I hope it is at least a little useful for you.